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Top appeals court upholds 124-year sentence for young man over Kobani protests

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Turkey’s top appeals court has upheld a prison sentence of 124 years handed down to a 23-year-old man for allegedly taking part in street protests in the country’s Southeast in 2014, despite video footage presented in court showing him at a wedding at the time of the protests, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.

The violent demonstrations in October 2014 against the Turkish army’s inaction in the face of an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) offensive in the largely Kurdish northern Syrian town of Kobani in 2014 claimed 37 lives.

Mazlum İçli, who was 14 at the time, was accused of involvement in the death of four people. However, video footage of İçli attending a wedding in Diyarbakır’s Keçiveren village, 140 kilometers from the protests, was presented in court.

İçli said he was performing as a musician at the wedding along with his father.

The Ankara 2nd High Criminal Court handed down the prison sentence of 124 years, eight months to İçli in December 2021 on multiple charges including four counts of murder, which took place on Oct .7, 2014 during the Kobani protests in Diyarbakır in addition to charges of damaging the integrity of the state and disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Although not only his lawyers but also the prosecutor in the trial appealed the court’s ruling on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence showing İçli’s involvement in the murders, the prison sentence given to İçli has been upheld by the top appeals court following a years-long back and forth between the courts.


İçli’s lawyer, Mahsuni Karaman, who is also the lawyer for jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld İçli’s sentence despite evidence such as a video recording from the wedding, HTS records and witness testimony proving that İçli was not at the crime scene at the time of the murders.

According to Karaman, the court has upheld İçli’s sentence because it will be used as a pretext to punish Demirtaş and others in the Kobani trial.

Demirtaş is among 108 former and current pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians, 28 of whom are currently in jail, who are standing trial in the Kobani case.

Demirtaş had called for street protests in support of Kurdish fighters in Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help to the town and of supporting ISIL.

The HDP accuses the government of provoking the deaths.

According to the lawyer, based on İçli’s conviction, Demirtaş and others will be convicted of masterminding the murders during the Kobani protests.

Many say the Kobani trial is politically motivated and part of an ongoing government crackdown on Kurdish politicians.

Demirtaş has been jailed since November 2016 on bogus terror-related charges and not released from prison despite rulings from European Court of Human Rights.

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